Corporate blogs can be very public and blogging doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Ask any blogger who has kept it up for six months or longer, and she’ll tell you, it’s not easy to think of new and interesting ideas every day, week after week.
Business bloggers feel added pressure because they directly address their customers and invite scrutiny on their products and services. If the company has a certain level of confidentiality surrounding their services, there’s only so much you can say without revealing trade secrets. Safeguarding the relationships you have with partners, investors and suppliers is also essential… and there’s plenty of corporate red tape that pretty much contradicts the whole concept of running a blog.
That said, a business blog can be very useful to position yourselves as experts in your field, to humanise your company and foster brand loyalty; in fact the absence of a blog can speak louder than a poorly run one. If you can set aside enough time for research, fact and grammar checks, your business blog can look fresh, personal and insightful.
Many companies who are just too busy to blog could consider hiring ghost writers to do it for them. This solution can work well, particularly if you’re engaged with the blog or oversee the content that’s uploaded. It’s important to ensure that the tone is as authentic as possible and that the ghost writer understands the company culture and philosophy (best practice is to hire writers with expertise in content marketing and to review every piece of content before publication).
Another important advantage of having a ghost writer is that he can help you integrate your blog with other marketing efforts – whether you’re focusing on social media or search engine results pages. A blog is not a standalone project; very rarely does great content, or any great product for that matter, simply sell itself.
No one enters a conversation just by talking – and then talking some more. A ghost writer can teach you about your online community (which, by the way, might differ from your real-life competitive landscape) and help you take those first small steps towards building relationships online. Whether you do this by blogging, Facebooking, Stumbling, Pinning, or all of them, is up to you!
In the last couple of years the focus of online marketing has shifted from purely English language based campaigns to more targeted multilingual and multicultural approaches. The focus of this post will be on the opportunities of three regions which have great potential for online marketing.
Yandex vs. Google in Russia
The online market in Russia is one of the most important growing markets that advertisers will have to monitor in the coming years. Especially online advertising has become more and more important. According to WebProNews.com, Russian online ad spend currently is estimated at 16 per cent and is still growing steadily.
In line with these results, Yandex, the most popular search engine in Russia, experienced60 per cent sales growth in 2011. Owning about 60 per cent market share and rated the most popular web site on the Russian web, Yandex is currently aiming to increase its global index.
Google managed to claim approximately 25 per cent of the market share as of May 2011 but has not kept up with Yandex’s growing market share just now. Russia is one of the promising future markets for online marketing activities, especially in social media which plays an important role for Internet users. Going into this market requires thorough monitoring of the potential users, the search engines and the potential market niches.
Investing in China
Another interesting and fast growing online environment is China. According to Mashableecommerce will be one of the fastest growing areas in China in the next three years. This makes the Chinese Internet a very profitable place for investment.
In the Chinese web Baidu is the biggest search engine, indexing around 740 million pages. But it is not alone in the very competitive Chinese search engine market. New competition comes from Jike, a government-owned search engine. It is already clear that a lot of content won’t be indexed by Jike as governmental-imposed censorship is in place and has a tight grip around users’ online experience.
Google has just recently announced that it will inform users if sites have been censored by the government. The censorship represents a huge challenge for Internet marketers to identify the right search queries and keywords for brands.
But China also offers a sizable opportunity for online marketers to reach the masses. According to the CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Centre) online marketers can potentially reach 420 million people online (31.6 per cent of the population in 2010).Entering the Chinese online market requires the understanding of how people search; the culture and certainly the language.
The Middle East shows major online marketing growth
The opportunities in the Middle Eastern online market are immense. The population of the Middle East is estimated at around 216 million people, and of these, about 77 million are frequent Internet users.
The massive growth of digital advertising is certainly a significant opportunity. A 50 per cent increase has been forecasted for 2012 which is just the beginning. In the coming years the digital market will grow and grow. The downside of this rapid growth is the lack of audience measurement systems but this will surely improve in due course.
Online marketers face challenges alongside opportunities. The economic and political situations, cultural circumstances as well as other factors have a major influence on the structuring of online marketing campaigns.
The potential of these three online markets is significant. Entering them requires a thorough understanding of the culture, the people, and the language and in more detailed terms, how people search.
Building brand affinity through a coherent marketing strategy is something that all companies hope to achieve. Many are turning to the online world of content marketing – the use of infographics, videos, microsites, webinars and other forms of content to engage with, attract and secure their target audience. The question we must ask then is: who is doing it well? And why are they succeeding? Here are three of the brands I think are embracing content marketing with optimum effect:
Burberry has established itself as an international retail powerhouse and its popularity cannot be questioned with 12 million Facebook likes and a wealth of Twitter followers as well. So how does it maintain this momentum and keep engaging users? The answer lies partially in successful content marketing and connection with a modern audience through digital media.
Let us take one example: the brand is particularly renowned for trench coats, which were invented by founder Thomas Burberry. This resulted in the launch of a social networking microsite – Art of the Trench – showcasing images from professional fashion photographers, Magnum photographers and the public, with specific focus upon Scott Schuman – otherwise known as The Sartorialist. Between November 2009 and the middle of 2010, the site gained more than seven million visits, a figure that certainly speaks for itself. Ultimately what made this project fly was Burberry’s ability to attract users with a story before allowing them to add to it themselves. People submitted their own photographs, creating a visual ‘history’ of the trench coat, as well as being able to comment on individual pictures and share them with others. Overall the brand constructed a beautifully designed site targeted at those who love looking at fashion online, linking it with the experience of wearing it offline.
Throughout the last year IKEA have focused on increasing their content marketing presence, for example launching a YouTube channel with original videos including ‘how to’ options and style tips. Another facet of their strategy has been described as a special version of Pinterest, a community photo-sharing website called Share Space where consumers can upload pictures of rooms they have redecorated, giving other users inspirational ideas and encouraging them to share content. This is supported by traditional written content on the IKEA blog, also accessible through the microsite.
IKEA are using appealing visual tools to connect with their customers, creating easily digestible chunks of information and, like Burberry, encouraging internet users to take pride in and share their own content. People like to feel valued, and this is precisely what IKEA have achieved, carrying out extensive research to extract precisely what the people in their shops actually want.
Coca-Cola have such faith in content marketing that they believe it can double global consumption of the fizzy drink by 2020. They released two internal videos with this strategy in mind, giving an insider’s view into their mindset (these videos are essential for all digital marketers). The videos outline how Coke will deliver ‘content excellence’, using storytelling, starting conversations and earning a disproportionate share of popular culture. Recent interactive examples include some neat and playful toys such as the Sticky Hand, the Coke Spinner, an experience drawing on images from Coke’s history, and Blowing Bubbles in the Sky. Generating a massive volume of social noise, this is just the start of what can only be described as a revolution in content marketing, and they are certainly not trying to hide it. We like to call them: ‘windows into happiness.’
Have you seen an amazing piece of content marketing lately? Share it in the comments.